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Extended School Year Programs Offer Many Benefits
By Justin Gerwick

The impact and importance of structure is something often overlooked in the school setting. During the school year, students have a routine. They go to school for the same time period, five days a week. They see the same classmates, teachers and staff members over and over again, until the point where everyone is comfortable with one another. And perhaps most importantly, the students are in a school setting. This means that they are spending time learning. Or in the case of students with special needs, they might also be spending time going to therapy and counseling sessions or doing activities that help them to build social and life skills.

These learned skills and the structure truly help students. Not only are students enhancing their knowledge, social skills and life skills, but they are also spending time in an environment that fosters that growth. So, what happens when that environment goes away between the months of June and August each year? Think about how much the summer break changes the lives of educators and parents. Then, take some time to imagine the ways in which that break can affect a student with special needs. Instead of focusing on studies or spending valuable time with their peers, children with special needs often begin to lose some of the valuable skills they’ve attained if they are not spending time enhancing them.

In response to this, schools are offering various summer programs for students to participate in. Some instances of that include summer remedial courses, camps, or therapeutic programs. Some schools, such as New Story, are taking it a step further by offering Extended School Year (ESY) programs.

All extended school year services must meet requirements set forth by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the federal special education law. As a private school, collaboration with home districts occurs to meet these needs. As it does throughout the regular school year, New Story works to meet the individual needs of each of its students during ESY.

“Extended School Year is a program offered to students who meet ESY qualifications for maintenance of skills, academics and/or behavior,” Susan Griffith, New Story’s Western Region Director of Education said. “ESY is designed to focus on student IEP goals and build a bridge between school years, reducing the loss of skill or behavior over a long break. ESY at New Story includes small class sizes, targeted goals, hands-on learning, and social/emotional skill building.”

New Story’s ESY program runs from July 2 – Aug. 13 in each of its locations.

New Story is a licensed, private school which offers a special education academic learning environment and multiple therapeutic services to help children achieve success while coping with emotional and behavioral challenges. For more information, visit www.newstory.com or call (412) 373-5235


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